Recorded January 25, 2010 in Brooklyn, NY, USA by Michael Marciano
Russian-born trumpeter Alex Sipiagin's tenth recording as a leader apart from his chores with the Mingus Big Band gives homage to his first and greatest influence, Woody Shaw. On this split program of originals and selections from Shaw's repertoire, Sipiagin plays a more basic brass horn than did his highly advanced, harmonically futuristic idol, but there's an added wrinkle to this program that Shaw never really explored. Electric guitarist Adam Rogers is along for the ride, drastically morphing these tunes to a fusion style that Shaw only touched upon - refer to the early-'70s album Blackstone Legacy. In sparser frameworks, Sipiagin and this piano-less quartet bring new meaning to Shaw's influential music, which has stood the test of time for some four decades. Where "Obsequious" was in its initial form a scorching hard bop number via its composer, organist Larry Young, here it's parsed and slowed, demanding that you listen closely to hear the original melody. Most faithful to the original versions are the lovely "Katrina Ballerina" and "Cassandranite," while "Blues for Wood" is led out by bassist Boris Koslov before heading into a fresh-sounding, choppy refrain. Of the newer works by the leader, the two-part "Greenwood" bookends the date in a more modal context, with the sneaky guitar style that Rogers has by now perfected. Drummer Antonio Sanchez keeps the pace light but lively throughout, while fellow Mingus Big Band member Koslov is brilliant no matter the tempo or rhythmic role he plays. As a tandem, Sipiagin and Rogers have hit upon something unique, blurring the cloudy lines of Shaw's music in a way that he might have were he alive today. Where most tribute projects imitate far too frequently, Generations is one that actually expands on the virtues of its intended icon.
All Music Guide
With Generations, his eighth Criss Cross outing as a leader, trumpeter Alex Sipiagin honors the legacy of the great Woody Shaw, reimaging five stellar pieces from Shaw's repertoire and balancing the progam with four originals.
The quartet lineup here < Sipiagin, guitarist Adam Rogers, bassist Boris Kozlov, drummer Antonio Sanchez > at one time formed the core of the brilliant Michael Brecker Sextet. Together, these four players bring years worth of mutual collaborative experience to the music at hand.
Woody Shaw himself appeared just once on Criss Cross, lending his extraordinary horn voice to Introducing Kenny Garrett (Criss 1014) in 1985. Shaw's influence has long been implicit in Sipiagin's playing - not only in the Russian-born trumpeter's work as a leader, but also in his scorching solos with Dave Holland's Big Band and Octet, the Mingus Big Band, the late Michael Brecker's Sextet and Quindectet and many more.
With Generations Sipiagin makes his debt to Shaw more explicit, but he approaches these canonical works with his own individuality and imagination foremost in mind, in the determined spirit of Shaw's song title: Beyond All Limits.